Russell Baker

Literary Birthday – 14 August – Russell Baker


Russell Baker was born 14 August 1925 and died 21 January 2019.

Russell Baker Quotes

  1. When speaking aloud, you punctuate constantly — with body language. Your listener hears commas, dashes, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks as you shout, whisper, pause, wave your arms, roll your eyes, wrinkle your brow. In writing, punctuation plays the role of body language. It helps readers hear the way you want to be heard.
  2. I’m writing because I love to write, of course. It was just a pleasure to write. I’d write things for fun and throw it away. Of course, once you start making money it becomes work and it ceases to be fun, but your writing gets better.
  3. If you’ve ever written any fiction, trying to create a big scene with a lot of people talking, you tend to do it by everybody talking, with a lot of quotation marks, which is extremely dull and wears out quickly. And you can’t get it right.
  4. If you haven’t sweated over it, it’s probably not worth it… People don’t usually realise what it takes out of you. They just see you sitting there, staring at the wall, and they don’t know that you’re looking for the perfect word to describe a shade of light.
  5. Life is always walking up to us and saying, “Come on in, the living’s fine,” and what do we do? Back off and take its picture.
  6. Listen once in a while. It’s amazing what you can hear.
  7. Most English speakers do not have the writer’s short fuse about seeing or hearing their language brutalised. This is the main reason, I suspect, that English is becoming the world’s universal tongue: English-speaking natives don’t care how badly others speak English as long as they speak it.
  8. The biographer’s problem is that he never knows enough. The autobiographer’s problem is that he knows too much.

Russell Baker was an American journalist, narrator, and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography Growing Up (1982). A sequel, The Good Times, was published in 1989. His irreverent “Observer” column appeared in The New York Times for 36 years. He used this platform comment on a wide range of social and political matters.

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 by Amanda Patterson

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